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Spot Eagles in the Wild at WV Birding Survey

Bye, Bye Birdies! (Well, not quite yet.)

Our winged friends are ducking down south for the winter, but there’s still time to catch the nation’s most majestic sweeping through Southern WV.


The lookout tower at Pipestem Resort State Park.

The bald eagle, the nation’s symbol of freedom, will be soaring over the state for migration season. At Pipestem on Jan. 11, volunteers can team up with expert bird watchers to spot them in the wild, and help with the important task of recording their numbers.

About 20 mating pairs of the rare (but rebounding) raptor have made their home in WV. Pipestem gives people a unique opportunity to spot them as they head away for the season.

You’ll also be scanning the skies for golden eagles that might also be passing through overhead. Groups will be stationed around the park at various locales with good vantage points of the migration paths.

Park officials have said there’s a good chance you’ll get to see the iconic creatures in their element during the winter count.

In years past, observers have caught the fierce but majestic birds in mid-hunt, diving down after their prey, an amazing spectacle.

If you want to experience this unique chance to work alongside a pro to scope out eagles in their natural habitat, join the search by calling 800-225-5982 or 304-466-1800 ext 344 to make a reservation.

If you need to travel in to join the observation groups, you can find accommodations right there at Pipestem park.

Have you seen an eagle in the wild?

Sample State’s Cultural Best at Experience WV Workshops

Want a true Southern WV experience? We’ve got a unique opportunity this week to dabble in all SWV’s finest.

Experience WV

Delve Into Southern WV Culture with Experience WV Workshops

As the Boy Scouts flock in for the 2013 Jamboree, the universities of the area are coming together to offer up some insights into the Appalachian way of life, highlighting our mountain culture in courses and activities throughout the region.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the cultural workshops you can try:



Try a traditional crafting course, like polymer clay sculpting. You can not only learn the basics of this versatile medium, you can also take a creation home with you. Make beads, boxes, jewelry or art, and you can take home a little piece of Appalachia with your new skill.



The heritage of our state runs as deep as the coal mines, our dominant industry for years. Delve into the coal seams and the lives of mining towns, as well as our railroad history and lumber logging, with a top storyteller and professor during one of the “Talking about Appalachia” sessions.

Or, take a unique look at the Civil War that birthed our state: peek into the past of medicine, before modern technology could cure us. Hear about the history of surgery in the Civil War era, and take a look at modern medical practices for rural communities.



Hit the trails and hike through the New River Gorge. Learn more about the history of the area, and spot some of the wildlife flying above you. Trek the easy railroad trail and hear stories of kidnapping, coal, unsolved mystery and more.



Ever wanted to be an astronaut? The Aerospace Education Laboratory at WV State University will offer special NASA-themed sessions for kids and adults alike. Try your hand at shuttle life with robotics, a flight simulator, microgravity drop tower and more.



Enjoy the state’s best storytellers, performers and musicians all week long! Theatre WV, Beckley’s professional acting group, will perform “The Hatfields and McCoys” and “Honey in the Rock,” two intriguing state stories, on stage. You can also catch them perform the classic “The Wizard of Oz.” Gospel, southern rock and bluegrassss are among the many mountain musical styles you can explore, both in workshop sessions and live concerts.


Add some adventure to that lineup with a 2013 Jamboree Visitor’s Pass.  You will be able to sample a variety of outdoor adventures, from aerial obstacles to zip lining to BMX biking, at the Boy Scouts’ new high adventure center.


That’s just a small sample of the workshops available this week. For the full list, or to register, visit
Which Experience WV workshop looks most interesting to you?

Tons To Do at Beckley’s Auto Fair

Beckley’s extravagant Friends of Coal Auto Fair is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Notice it’s not a car “show.” It’s a full-on, four-day, festival-style fair with tons of entertainment and attractions. The cars are just part of the fun.

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt

The family fun kicks off with a Thursday night concert, featuring the southern indie band Shea and upbeat rockers Motion Theatre. Park and hop aboard the event shuttles to join the Kick-off Party excitement.

Friday is the Family Night Cruise-In, which parades the vehicles from uptown to the show grounds. Then Jada Vance of “American Idol” fame, will take the stage before the late-night movie screening of “Wreck it Ralph,” the story of a video game villain who strives to become a hero instead.

The car show will have vehicles from classic rides to modern muscle cars on display. Caring owners will have their wheels on display to compete for several awards, and also during a Kreager Tire Burn Competition.

Carnival fun will also be booming all weekend long, with inflatables, a Eurobungee, zipline and more. Amusement area tickets (separate from the $2 regular admission) get you and the kids unlimited play! No walking back to re-buy tickets every time they yell “One more time!”

Friday, the amusement tickets will be discounted for the Family Night Special. (And you can score the discount again Sunday, when general admission is also free!)

Saturday night, two great national acts will take the stage. Country singer Travis Tritt and Southern rockers the Davisson Brothers Band will keep the crowds dancing until the fireworks start exploding.

Before that performance, famous mine safety competition teams will be showing off their rescue routine skills, including the Beckley Police Department’s star K-9 Unit dogs, Artie and Ciro.

The Davisson Brothers

The Davisson Brothers

Sunday, there is a non-denominational church service, and then the cars that dazzle the judges will receive their awards.

Show tickets are available in advance at a lower rate, or at the gate the day of. They include the admission price.

The funds raised during the event will support YMCA programs.

Which part of the Friends of Coal Auto Fair are you most excited about?

Start Your Holiday Shopping Now: Gifts Made In West Virginia Are Perfect for Everyone

The holiday shopping season has arrived, and the next few weeks are all about finding gifts for everyone on your list. No matter how long or short your list may be, finding the right gift can sometimes be tough. We’ve got the solution for you, though. Give gifts made right here in West Virginia.

Grandma’s House in Hinton, West Virginia

This state is full of talented folks who create special, unique products. What could make a better holiday gift than a handcrafted West Virginia made item? Here are some items to look for.

Pottery can be a very special gift. Each piece of handmade pottery is unique in its own way; no two pieces will ever be identical. Mugs, bowls, plates, vases and so many other creative pieces can be found at shops throughout the local area. Gauley River Pottery in Lookout is one place to find great pottery pieces and supplies.

Jewelry is another item that makes a great gift. Handmade necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings can bring great joy to that special someone when they realize you got them a unique, one-of-a kind piece. Harmony Ridge Gallery in Lewisburg has a great collection of handmade jewelry as well as many other handcrafted offerings.

Other WV gifts
There are so many great local craftspeople creating items that would make wonderful gifts. From hand-blown glass and paintings to homemade food products and sculptures, local artisans pour their creativity and skill into these gifts. Check out our shopping page for a list of places to find great WV gifts.


Gauley River Pottery

This is your can’t-miss holiday shopping spot in southern West Virginia. All of the artisans that sell at Tamarack have been specially selected, so you know you’re getting some of the best of West Virginia. This place literally houses thousands of hand made items, from specialty foods to hand blown glass. You’ll find an amazing assortment of art, ceramics, textiles, ironwork, books, music, and more. Plan to spend a couple of hours browsing here, and have lunch at the on-site café.

Are you shopping for locally-made gifts on Small Business Saturday? What WV made item would you suggest to a visitor? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Introducing the Visit Southern West Virginia Mobile App

It’s here. And your vacation is about to get even better.

We know that you use your mobile phone to plan your vacation and that it plays a big role in your vacation when it starts.

That’s why we created a new mobile application, designed to help you have an amazing vacation that you can share with friends and family back home. West Virginia itineraries, attractions, shopping, dining, events, and more are right at your fingertips.

Use your smartphone to explore southern West Virginia

How It Works 

The app is centered around vacation itineraries that highlight different parts of southern West Virginia. You’ll use the mobile application to find the itinerary that interests you. From there, you’ll get information and directions for each itinerary stop.

And if you’re near a point of interest that isn’t on your current itinerary, you’ll get a notification from the app letting you know that you’re close to another special stop. It’s up to you if you stick to your itinerary or hop off to check out another unique place in West Virginia.

You can easily share vacation updates on your social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter.

Traveling with a large group? The app has a feature called Friend Finder that allows you to locate the people in your party at any time.

You’ll also have quick access to information about area events, local hospitals and emergency services, and other helpful info.

Where Do I Get It?

Download the app to your iPhone or Android smartphone. If you’re an iPhone user, visit the App Store and search for Southern West Virginia. If you use an Android device, visit Google Play and search for Southern West Virginia. Or, just visit the Visit Southern West Virginia website on your mobile device, and the download button will be near the middle of the page.

Have questions? Learn more by watching a quick video about the application.

Visiting West Virginia in August? Make the State Fair Part of Your Vacation

If your vacation brings you to West Virginia in mid-August, you’ll find another great event that showcases the traditions of agriculture, family entertainment, and education. The West Virginia State Fair is almost here, and it should be on your must-do list.

Staged August 10-18 at the fairgrounds in Fairlea in Greenbrier County, the West Virginia State Fair is full of fun and entertainment for the entire family. Here is why the fair is a great way to spend the day.

West Virginia State Fair

WV Traditions

West Virginia is, even to this day, largely a rural state. A lot of the traditions of the small family farm are still practiced today, and the Fair allows these folks to showcase their skills. Livestock exhibits are a huge part of the fair and the exhibition can mean new business for many of the farmers that attend. Throughout the Fair, there are different livestock shows for many different categories.

Many schools in the state still have WV 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs, which encourage participation in the various events that the Fair offers.

In addition to livestock, there are plenty of other exhibits in which kids can participate, including gardening and arts and crafts. Also, be sure to check out:

  • Draft Horse – Horse pulls and Halter, Hitch, and Farm Shows that feature draft horses.
  • Harness Racing – A traditional event that is a fan favorite.
  • Horse Shows
  • Flowers, Foods, and Needlework – There are junior and senior displays and competitions in these categories.
  • Agricultural Produce and Fine Arts and Crafts – There are junior and senior displays and competitions in these categories.
  • Great Lakes Timber Show – This popular show features chainsaw carving, ax throwing, logrolling, and more.
  • Cooks Corner Cooking Demos – Learn cooking basics or perfect your skills.

These are just a few of the exhibits you can see at the fair. Check out the daily calendar of events for more info.

What Else?

There are many other activities that will be going on throughout the week. The Zerbini’s Family Circus will perform multiple shows daily.  And there will be many different musical groups providing entertainment all week long. A clogging group, The Appalachian Hoedown Cloggers will perform traditional dances. There is also the Flying Houndz Frisbee Trick Dog Show, a motocross show, a bull riding competition, and more.

Trace Adkins performs on August 10

And don’t miss the big time musicians that will be performing in the grandstand in the evenings:

  • Trace Adkins
  • Gaither Vocal Band
  • Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
  • Justin Moore
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Newsboys and Building 429
  • Kip Moore
  • Victoria Justice

All of these shows have admission fees in addition to the Fair admission charge. Be sure to check availability of tickets before you go.

The WV State Fair is a wonderful week of family fun and entertainment. And we haven’t even mentioned all the amusement rides, carnival games, and food that is part of the fair. Yes, many people go to the Fair just for the food. Be sure to grab one of the giant cinnamon rolls.

If your vacation plans have you in the Mountain State August 10-18, a visit to our showcase of West Virginia’s heritage and traditions should be on your agenda. Visit the West Virginia State Fair.

These small town murals are awesome. Looks like you could drive right into this one. This is just one of the incredible art works found in Welch, WV. #visitwv

These small town murals are awesome. Looks like you could drive right into this one.  This is just one of the incredible art works found in Welch, WV. #visitwv

Your Guide to Memorial Day in Southern West Virginia

The three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, and no place rocks the start of the season like southern West Virginia. If you’re still unsure about how you are going to spend your Memorial Weekend, look no further.

Picnic It Up

Spending the day outside with family and friends is a Memorial Day tradition. Here are a few spots that are great for spending the day picnicking.

Grandview – There are plenty of tables or spots to set up your picnic. Overlooks, hiking trails, and places for kids to play make it good for groups of all ages.

Babcock State Park – With a trout stream and a lake in this state park, fishing is just one of the activities that you can make part of your picnic day.

Dunglen – The day use area at the Park Service property in Thurmond has a shelter and volleyball court. You can hike or bike the Southside Junction Trail from here or go across the river and check out the town of Thurmond and the train depot.

Pipestem State Park – A tram down to the Bluestone River, horseback riding, and all the other great outdoor activities make this a super spot to spend the day (or the entire weekend).

Events and Adventures

In addition to traditional southern West Virginia adventures (whitewater rafting, biking, hiking, zip lining, and rock climbing) there are some fairly new attractions to check out. Visit Bridge Walk, Timbertrek, and Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Parkwhile you’re here for something a little different.

Photo courtesy WVNS

Carnival Fun at the Mountain Festival

And there are also a few special events taking place during Memorial Day Weekend.

Parrot Palooza/Beckley Live United Street Festival – 3 days of fun, May 25-27, including a street festival with lots of live music, a cornhole tournament, a poker run and a hot dog eating contest.

Memorial Day Package at Glade Springs – Stay 2 nights between 24th and 28th and receive a 3rd night free. Activities include a 70′s themed pool party with dinner and live entertainment, Manicure and Martini night at Spa Orange, a cornhole tournament and special activities at Bunkers.

Mountain Festival - Held every Memorial Day in Bluefield, this multi-day event for the whole family features a carnival, games, food, crafts, animals music and more. It runs from the 22nd through the 28th at the City Park in Bluefield.

Dandelion Festival - May 24 – 28. Explore the culture and heritage of White Sulphur Springs with this festival featuring dandelion wine tastings, arts and crafts, cultural exhibits and live entertainment.

What are you doing this weekend in southern West Virginia?

Start Filling Out That New Calendar

January marks the chance to sport a new calendar on the wall and start filling in some fun weekend events among all your other work and family commitments.

As you turn the page into January, February, and March, why not add in some fun

Tamarack Artisan Center

events alongside noting Grandma’s Birthday and your next work trip?  While you might not naturally associate arts and culture with southern West Virginia, maybe you should.  The artisans and creative class working among our mountains have plenty of inspiration all around them and are bringing some great events to you right here in Southern West Virginia.

In Raleigh County, the first few months of 2011 bring a chance to experience the life of prized writer Emily Dickinson or combine dinner and theatre at Tamarack, the state’s iconic arts and cultural center.

Over in Greenbrier County, you can celebrate your folk roots with the most awarded band in the history of bluegrass coming up on February 11.

In Fayette County, take in a showing of  “The Pied Piper” at Historic Fayette Theatre, March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18-20th.

In Summers and Mercer, social life  just got a little more interesting with the opportunity to  spend some quality time with your sweetheart at Pipestem Resort State Park.  Anytime is a good time to get away with the one you love but special sweetheart events are planned for Feb 11-13 including entertainment by  ‘Time Peace’ from Craigsville, WV during the Sweetheart Dance on Saturday night.

This is just a few of the events happening in 2011.  So what are you waiting for check out the 2011 Southern West Virginia Events Calendar and start saving the date(s)!

Sledding Down Mountains ( Just Like Calvin & Hobbes)

Sledding Down Mountains

( Just Like Calvin & Hobbes)

Some of the greatest memories ever made included the simplest of items.  Cookie dough and your kids, a huge roll of paper and some paints, or even a few inner-tubes on some freshly fallen snow.

Tubing at Winterplace Ski Resort

Those of you in the deep south know the feeling you got when you saw your first snowflake or when your kids built their first snowman.  But the time honored tradition of sledding is just as swell.  Kids of all ages (including the adult variety) can find so much joy in gliding down mountains.

If your travels take you to Southern WV this winter, be sure and take in some sledding at our top locations – Winterplace Ski Resort and Pipestem State Park.

Winterplace offers WV’s largest tubing park with two great Super Carpet lifts to whisk you back to the top of the mountain. (Now don’t you wish we had that as kids?)

Pipestem offers a little family fun as their Driving Range goes snowy.  The park’s Pro Shop offers sled and cross country ski rentals by the hour or by the day and a great hill for sledding.

What memories does sledding conjure up for you?  Snow days off from school?  Calvin and Hobbes strapped in a toboggan?  Or your last trip to WV?

When was the last time you went sledding?

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